News / Middle East

Lebanese Take Sides in Syrian Civil War

James Brooke
Syria’s civil war is inflaming passions next door in Lebanon. James Brooke reports from Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli, where supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought running gun battles last week.
 
Posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad festoon this hilltop neighborhood overlooking Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city.
 
This one reads: “The Arab nation will not kneel as long as Bashar al-Assad is their Commander.”
 
But Abo Ali Zoumar, a local militia commander, admits it has been five years since he has gone down the hill to the Mediterranean shore, only one kilometer from his apartment.
 
Blocking his way are militia from Tripoli’s Sunni majority population. They back the rebels in neighboring Syria.
 
Last week, Syria’s civil war spilled over into Lebanon, as fighting broke out between the two groups here, killing 17 and wounding 77 more.
 
In Tripoli, Lebanon, the Lebanese army has imposed a ceasefire after fighting here between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Assad. This man was one of 20 volunteers killed with rebels inside Syria.
 
With the Syrian border only 30 kilometers north of here, the Lebanese men went to help their fellow Sunni in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
 
On Syria Street, the border between the two warring communities,
 
Sheikh Walid Taboush is the imam of Tabbaneh.  He believes that his enemies up the hill collaborate with Syrian intelligence.  They are from the same Alawite sect as the al-Assad clan that rules Syria. The imam says Lebanon’s Alawite minority must break its ties with Syria’s rulers now, before the regime collapses.
 
“We have heard from France, America and Russia that is possible that  Syria will be divided, that Bashar al Assad will go to Tartus and Latakia and form the Alawi state in Syria. This will have a negative effect on the whole Arab region, not only on Tripoli," he said. 
 
In a rare interview,  Zoumar, the Alawite militia commander, says his Sunni neighbors radicalized in recent years:
 
“They got Islamic features, with beards and mustaches, and dressed like Bin Ladin. They became fanatic and started to denounce others in the mosques and on TV. We were used to them, we were brothers living together," he said. 
 
Showing a photo of his three-year-old old son with an AK-47 rifle, Zoumar says hefights to protect Alawites against ethnic cleansing by Sunnis:
 
Down the hill, Lebanon’s Army now patrols Syria Street, keeping a close eye on both sides.
 
Abdul Hamid Sidawi, looks at the charred remains of his vegetable stand. He recalls Lebanon’s 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.
 
“I was 23 years old when the war started in 1975. And now it is the back with our children," he said. 
 
Lebanon’s Army may be the best hope for stopping violence spreading here from neighboring Syria.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs